What’s Missing?

A post on the Portland Reddit board is getting a lot of engagement. It poses the question “What is Portland’s food scene missing?” So far there have been 294 responses.

Korean food, Mexican food, Greek food, a Jewish delicatessen, a fast casual salad cafe, a steakhouse/chophouse have been frequently mentioned as have ideas like Georgian (the country) food, Peruvian food, a Waffle House, Filipino food, Soul Food, Ukrainian and Polish food, Moroccan food, Lebanese food, French food,  and suggestions for a variety of fast casual chains.

The full thread would be great market research for anyone wanting to open a new spot in Portland and who doesn’t have a concept already selected.

Smalls Staff Forms Union

The staff at Smalls (websiteinstagram) on Brackett Street have formed a union which has been voluntarily recognized by the business owners. Smalls is the third Portland food and beverage business with a unionized staff. The other two are Cong Tu Bot and Coffee by Design.

The One Small Union is joining the New England Joint Board Unite Here organization which represents “workers in the textile, garment, manufacturing, warehousing, laundry, human service, and hospitality industries in New England and New York”.

Restaurant Burglaries (Updated)

The Press Herald has a report on a series of restaurant break-ins that have taken place at Taco Trio, Buena Vista, LFK and the Coffee by Design on India Street. Taco Trio and Buena Vista have shared surveillance video of the break-ins.

Police are investigating several recent break-ins at food business in Portland and South Portland.

In South Portland, Buena Vista Filipino Market on Main Street and Taco Trio on Ocean Street were burglarized in the past week. The two businesses are about 3 miles apart. And police in Portland are investigating burglaries at Coffee By Design on India Street and LFK, a cocktail bar on State Street, both reported last weekend.

In December the shop Nibblesford in Biddeford was robbed at gunpoint.

UPDATE: Leavitt and Sons in Falmouth was broken into overnight on January 3/4.

George + Leon’s Review, Freeport Restaurants

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes a review of George + Leon’s.

But George & Leon’s (named for Abbey’s dog and his young son, respectively) has emerged from adversity with a renewed respect for its team and better, more consistent food served at appropriate temperatures. If you visit, order a glass of natural wine to go with your traditional Super Beef sandwich, a softball-sized monster of a sandwich packed with pink beef, James River BBQ sauce, and white American cheese. Get it as a “4-way,” if you enjoy crisp onion rings. If you’re not in the mood for beef, the homemade chicken finger sub and the umami-overloaded, brown-butter-and-mushroom sub are also top-notch options.

The paper also takes an in-depth look at the Freeport restaurant scene and the factors holding it back from further growth.

While restaurateurs seem drawn like moths these days to the bright heat of the Greater Portland food scene, many in the town of Freeport feel underserved by the comparatively lackluster dining choices, especially for a sit-down meal.

Solo Cucina Market for Sale

Owners of the Solo Cucina Market in South Portland have announced that the market is for sale. The announcement on instagram reads in part,

To our dear community: we have some challenging news to share. After a very positive year for Solo Cucina, we have had to make a difficult choice of putting the market up for sale. This is not because the market and what it offers is not deeply valued. To the contrary, and we have been honored by the community’s enthusiasm for the market’s offerings and your ongoing support and patronage…

And goes on to share that,

…This was our first year seeing tangible growth and progress, but building the market came with some legacy liabilities that we have been unable to sufficiently overcome. We also feel that we are a bit stretched thin and don’t want to do a disservice to the concept or to you, the community. A market as locally relevant and specialized as Solo Cucina that supports a dedicated year round community deserves full attention on behalf of its visionaries…

The market opened on March 25, 2020. A final day in business has not been set yet. See the announcement for whom interested parties should contact for details on a purchase.

Solo Cucina is part of a family of businesses that also include Solo Italiano in Portland and Solo Pane e Pasticceria in Bath.

CBD Employees Seek to Unionize

The Press Herald reports that the employees at Coffee by Design are seeking to form a union.

Baristas at Coffee By Design’s three coffeehouses in Portland announced Tuesday that they will try to form a union.

The baristas say that 89% of the retail workforce in Portland signed cards authorizing Local 327 of the Laborers’ International Union of North America to seek voluntary recognition of a union.

FoodTech Maine Program

The Maine Center for Entrepreneurs has announced the first cohort of businesses participating in their FoodTech Maine business accelerator program.

FoodTech Maine connects and fosters collaboration among early-stage and mid-sized companies, that are innovating and developing AgriFood industry services or products, to commercialize and scale their businesses and grow this industry in Maine. The program provides resources, expertise, and networking opportunities to enable participating companies to thrive and contribute to Maine’s robust FoodTech ecosystem.

This first set of participants include a very interesting set of companies:

  • Everything Seaweed – “creating and promoting sustainable use of products made from seaweed”. everythingseaweed.net
  • Cap N Stem – produces “wholesale USDA Certified organic mushroom substrate spawn and cultivation content”. capnstem.com
  • Maine Garum Company – produces “umami sauces with fish processing waste”. @mainegarumco
  • Ocean Farm Suply – produces shellfish harvest bags from 100% beechwood cellulose fiber. oceanfarmsupply.com
  • Salmonics –  develops biomedical products derived from salmon blood. salmonics.co
  • Springtide Seaweed – provide organic seaweed products, nursery supplies and seeds, and consulting. springtideseaweed.com
  • Tootie’s Tempeh – organic tempeh using locally grown soy beans. tootiestempeh.com

Beard Awards: Open Call for Recommendations

As in past years, the James Beard Foundation has posted an open call for recommendations for the awards committee to consider when building the list of semifinalists for the 2024 chef and restaurant awards program. The deadline to submit recommendations is November 30th.

We’re looking for chefs, creators, food system leaders, and more who could be the next James Beard Award winners! Whether you published a cookbook in the last year, own a restaurant, or advocate for food system change, we encourage you to submit your entries and recommend your talented colleagues.

Reference this PDF for guidelines on the chef and restaurant awards categories.

To create an account and submit your recommendations visit: jamesbeardawards.awardsplatform.com